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Yarnell Hill Fire: System failed to alert hundreds to evacuate

Emergency evacuation calls during the Yarnell Hill Fire were delayed 21 minutes as dispatchers struggled to overcome technological problems, new records obtained by The Arizona Republic and 12 News show.

Even then, only 79 calls went through, meaning hundreds of households in Yarnell and Peeples Valley were never notified, the records show. The new information contradicts previous claims by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office that its automated alert system, CodeRED, worked as it was supposed to.

Read the full story by The Arizona Republic here.

In police and fire departments across South Hampton Roads, a small number of employees work substantial amounts of overtime, while others receive little or no OT pay - at a time when there have been few raises.

Twenty public safety employees in South Hampton Roads each worked more than 1,000 hours of overtime in the 2013 fiscal year. At minimum, that equates to almost 60-hour weeks.

A November state Department of Labor investigation cited 11 safety violations, of which eight were designated as serious, in connection to the fire on Jan. 21, 2013, when volunteer firefighter Matthew Porcari fell into the basement after the one-story home’s floor collapsed. The Press & Sun-Bulletin obtained the report last week through a Freedom of Information Law request.

A dispute between the City of Baltimore and a firefighter-paramedic with breast cancer spotlights a high-stakes debate over a law that presumes certain cancers are related to fighting fires. Firefighters say the provisions — which can lead to awards exceeding $500,000, including medical bills — rightly reflect the fact that they can encounter dangerous fumes and chemicals on the job.

But governments like Baltimore's, which spent $49 million last year on workers' compensation, call the law unreasonably generous and too difficult to challenge in hearings or in court. Officials also point to recent research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that casts doubt on whether there is a link between firefighting and most of the cancers listed in Maryland's law.

It's a firefighter's worst nightmare: Trapped inside a smoke-filled basement, he radios for help. But he can't get a signal. He speaks, but his colleagues and dispatchers hear nothing.

Monroe County leaders and fire district officials agree that no firefighter should ever wind up in such a desperate position. But they are still working out how to ensure that the county's new multimillion-dollar digital radio system can prevent it from happening.

"An Arizona Republic analysis found that despite warnings from fire and forestry experts, and nature itself, the state’s wildlands are dangerously overgrown. Arizonans, meanwhile, have since 1990 built more than 230,000 homes and other structures in wildfire-prone areas, creating risks for themselves and the firefighters called upon to protect them."

Arson is far more common and dangerous than has been previously reported, a new project by Scripps Howard News Service has found.The yearlong investigation has identified more than 163,000 fires in America that experts agree have a significant chance of being undetected arsons. These fires caused at least 788 deaths, 13,009 injuries and at least $5.8 billion in property damages. The project includes a searchable database showing ho local fire departments perform in reporting arson.

“News4 I-Team has learned some D.C. firehouses were understaffed during Monday morning's shooting at the Navy Yard. Twelve people were killed and eight others injured when 34-year-old Aaron Alexis opened fire inside Building 197 in Southeast D.C. around 8:30 a.m. Alexis was later shot and killed by police.”

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